Image by Rebecca K Photography
By Allegra Smith, Trinity United Methodist Church
“If a person has ugly thoughts, it begins to show on his face. And when that person has ugly thoughts every day, every week, every year, the face gets uglier and uglier until you can hardly bear to look at it.
A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts it will shine out of your face like sunbeams and you will always look lovely.” – Roald Dahl
I must confess that I don’t get much spiritual nourishment or fulfillment out of reading scripture. Maybe this is because of my upbringing in the United Methodist Church, which proclaims in its “What We Believe” mission that “John Wesley and the early Methodists placed primary emphasis on Christian living, on putting faith and love into action.” I see and feel the love of God the most when I am interacting with others: my faith is a faith that is sustained by people. This is part of what has made the past year of COVID-19 quarantine so difficult: when I can come together in love and service with my siblings in Christ, I am renewed; when I am separated from them, my faith, and my joy, can feel like they are withering.
But even though we are separated physically, we can still emulate God every day through our prayers, presence, gifts, service, and witness. God’s works are still shone in us through our words and our actions; like Roald Dahl says in his quote from one of his children’s books, “a person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly.” If we seek to practice goodness, kindness, and mercy in what we do—even, especially in these times of great trouble—we too will have the love of God shining out of our faces “like sunbeams.”
I personally never really liked the practice of “giving something up” for Lent either; and haven’t we given up enough during this past year? Instead of sacrificing sweets or soda, why not add a spiritual practice instead, or find a way to be God’s presence in the world through demonstrating a spiritual gift? I want to challenge you today: what can you do to let God’s work shine through you? Maybe you can tell the ones you live with something that you appreciate about them. Maybe you can show the staff at the supermarket how much you value them, and that you hope they stay safe and healthy. Maybe you can send a note or a small gift to a friend you haven’t heard from in a while. There are still ways to shine the light on Jesus, even when we must stay six feet apart. I hope you try one or two out this week, you lovely people.